Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chocolate Waffles

I was looking for waffle recipes without dairy (we're trying removing dairy from my son's diet to see if it's an issue) this weekend and all I had was chocolate soy milk. So this is what I came up with for a recipe. They were REALLY good and my boys and husband devoured them. We'll definitely be making these again. Sorry there is no picture but we were rushing to make
it to church on time (oops, almost made it in time).

2 c Flour
1 T and 1 t Baking powder
2 T White sugar
1 t Cocoa powder
1/2 t Salt
2 Large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c Chocolate soymilk, warm (or milk)
4 T Canola oil or melted coconut oil

Preheat a waffle iron (I love my Belgian waffle maker - so do my kids).

Mix together dry ingredients, and wet ingredients and wisk together. Carefully pour or ladle batter into a greased iron, pushing the batter to the edges of the iron. Cook until exterior is crispy, about 4-5 minutes.

To keep warm and crispy place on wire cooling rack in 200 degree oven, or just serve as they are ready.

Total Cost: $1.30 - 2.10
Flour $.45 (Sunmart)
Eggs $.20 (Cashwise)
Soymilk $.45 (Cashwise)
Oil $.20 - 1.00 (Cashwise)
Others from pantry stock

These would make a wonderful dessert with some whipped cream or ice cream, chocolate shavings, etc.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I've loved to cook pretty much all my life. Over time, I've started to do okay with it. Sometimes pretty darn good. Other times, complete disaster... but I'm learning.

Lately, I've been learning even more. So much of how and what I've learned over the years is missing information. I did the best with what I knew. But with what I'm learning about food today, genetic engineering, additives, preservatives, chemicals, etc... I have to do better.

If you haven't read already, I have a child with a severe peanut allergy. That is part of why I am on this food quest. We are taking him in next week for more testing to see if more allergies have appeared. Something isn't right and we are trying to find out exactly what that is.

In my quest, here are a few of the resources that have me thinking these days.


and his Petition to Change speaks to what we can do to create a healthier life for our families. Much of that is about cooking from scratch and not relying on processed foods. This is a quest that I've been on for a while. We do well, but there are still "easy" crutches in my cupboards.

THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It by Robyn O'Brien

This book was startling to me to find out how little testing was done on products that the FDA clears. The impact that all of the additives, engineering, chemicals, and processing has on health and allergies is unknown. But it doesn't have to be this way. Studies can be done, they just aren't funded except by major corporations.

As a mother with a food allergy child, I have lots of concerns about what this means. I'm not taking everything at face value of what I've read, but rather this is starting my quest to research.

So I'm passing this on for you and your family to do your own food quest. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

In the meantime, you might see a difference in the recipes you find here. I hope that you enjoy them a bit more knowing that they are better for you and your family. I know that I'm feeling better at my kitchen table...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

(non)Peanut Butter Pizza

Growing up, peanut butter pizza was a specialty that we had when visiting our friend's house. They had dessert every night after dinner. We didn't. So visiting their house was a treat. However, we did get to eat sugar laden cereals in the morning and they didn't. So I guess it all evens out.

I hadn't had this little treat since I was a kid. My friend Sarah started talking about it on facebook and it brought back all the childhood memories. Peanut allergy rules out the peanut butter, but I tried it out with sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds) and brought it to my moms group this week. It was a hit, and my 3-year-old was more than happy to be able to help finish it off.

(non)Peanut Butter Pizza Crust:
1/2 c White sugar
1/2 c Brown sugar
1/2 c Sunbutter (or peanut butter)
1/4 c Coconut oil (or shortening)
1/4 c Butter, softened
1 Egg
1 1/4 c Flour
3/4 t Baking soda
1/2 t Baking powder
1/4 t Salt
1/2 t Vanilla extract

Mix sugars, butter, coconut oil, and sunbutter until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough forms.

Place dough on parchment paper on top of pizza stone or baking sheet. Pat or roll out into desired shape. Use hand to gently push edge of crust together and make a slight rim to hold toppings on.

Bake @ 375 for 8-10 minutes until slightly under-baked. Remove and add a layer of milk chocolate chips over the top (about 2/3 bag) and miniature marshmallows (1/2 bag) and return to oven for 2-4 more minutes until melted and gooey. I like my marshmallows nice and golden brown.

Hint: With sunbutter, it tastes better once it is cooled down to tone down the seed taste. With real peanut butter this is wonderful served slightly warm.

Total Cost: $5.45
White sugar: $.20 (Sunmart)
Brown sugar: $.25 (Walmart)
Sunbutter: $1.25 (Trader Joe)
Coconut oil: $1.00 (Cashwise)
Butter: $.20 (Sunmart)
Egg: $.10 (Sunmart)
Flour: $.35 (Cashwise)
Chocolate Chips: $1.50 (Cashwise)
Marshmallows: $.60 (Cashwise)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homecade Pie Filling (Canned)

Need a last minute dessert? Concerned about the junk that you get from canned pie filling - which is more filling and less fruit? This is a great find. While I'm making applesauce, I put together a few jars of apple pie filling that comes in REALLY handy. A quick apple crisp, apple crisp pie, or cinnamon brunch bake.

4 c white sugar
3/4 c cornstarch
3 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 t salt
10 c water
3 T lemon juice
6 lb apples

Sterilize canning jars (7 or 8), lids and rings (boil them or heat them in the dish washer).

In a large pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add salt and water and mix well.
Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack the sliced apples into hot canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Slowly pour hot syrup over apples in jar, and gently remove air bubbles with a knife.

Put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Total costs: $4.00
Apples: $2.50 (farm picked)
Sugar: $1.00 (Aldi)
Corn Starch: $.50 (Meijer)
Spices from pantry stock

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Frugal Tip: Spices

One of the great things about moving is the opportunity to purge. We've moved 3 times in 3 years. We've managed to weed out a lot of stuff and learn to part with what isn't necessary. I love being able to do that. I'm looking at this as a fresh start.

As a fresh start in the kitchen is starting with my spice rack. It's easy to let the contents of those little jars get old and before you know it, there is a bunch of flavorless powder or flakes inside. It goes against everything I was taught growing up - but I'm throwing out what I have and getting new. (We found some spices of my mom's from the 80's when we moved her a few years ago).

Spices can be really expensive and you don't necessarily get a lot for your money. I grow a lot of my own herbs, but winter/spring in ND isn't exactly a great growing season. Until I can, I found a bulk herb rack in the organic section of the supermarket. Yeehaw did I have fun. I'm rationing myself to a few each week so that I work on developing recipes with what I did get...

Seriously - scored enough basil to last for quite a while for $.10 and Italian spices for $.16. I think I got 3 or 4 T of nutmeg for $1.16 and a big batch of sea salt for $1.18. Lastly, I was thrilled to find good coconut in bulk. I'm talking the unsweetened finely shredded stuff that doesn't taste like sweet plastic. I got almost 4 cups for $1.56.

The sweet deal on the spices is definitely anything flaky/lightweight. The best part of the deal is that they are all organic and VERY fresh (as fresh as dried herbs get). Next up is oregano (my fav herb), garlic powder, ginger (I bought fresh ginger too - sm root for $.75), cinnamon (my fav spice), and some seeds.

In MI there were several stores that specialized in bulk spices. Kicking myself that I never made it there, but this isn't bad. You can also check you local health/organic stores often sell bulk or in small packets rather than larger jars. It's a lot cheaper that way, and often a lot fresher (due to demand/turnover).

Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry

I've been experimenting with different vegetables and cuisines. This little Asian crunchy veggie is a treat to try out. It's a perfect addition to stir fry or as a side dish. It has a mild flavor, but the crunchy texture is what I love about it. I'd throw a few almonds or cashews in to this next time.

1.5 lb Chicken, cubed
2 bunches Baby bok choy, chopped
1/2 c Carrots, peel & sliced*
1/2 c Celery, chopped*
1/2 c Bean sprouts*

1 c Chicken broth
1 T Corn starch
3 T Soy sauce
1/2 t Ginger

Total Costs: $4.95
Chicken $2.50 (Cashwise)
Baby Bok Choy $1.00 (Sunmart)
Carrots $.20 (Cashwise)
Celery $.20 (Cashwise)
Bean Sprouts $1.00 (Cashwise)
Broth $.05 (homemade)
Spices from pantry stock

* Veggies can be replaced by a canned oriental veggies - but I don't recommend it. The fresh taste in stir fry can't be beat.

Cinnamon Brunch Bake

Another scrumptious find at the Christmas Brunch Buffet. I have to say that my sister-in-law is a fabulous cook. I think I come home with a recipe after every family gathering for something she's made. This tasty cinnamon bake is no exception to the rule. I ate enough of it that I hardly had room for the rest of the amazing dishes that were put out

Note From Jenny: I followed the recipe cook times as printed when I made it for Christmas....which resulted in a slightly underdone dish. So, I am modifying the time and temperature to match what has been more successful for me. :)

10 cups bread cubes (1 regular sized loaf)
8 eggs
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 360 degrees (might even want to try 375). Lightly grease a 9 by 13 baking dish. Line the bottom of the pan with the bread cubes. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the salt, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread. Dot with butter. Let stand for 10 minutes. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 360 degrees for one hour, until top is golden. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit.

Total Cost: $2.65 - 3.25
Bread - $1.00 (Walmart - day old rack)
Eggs - $.80 (Sunmart)
Milk - $.60 (Cashwise) $1.20 organic
Sugar - $.25 (Sunmart)
Spices from pantry stock

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crisp Fried Asparagus

Growing up I didn't know that asparagus could be boiled and mushy. I'm grateful for that. My mom always fried it. I still follow the same method my mom taught me but change up the seasoning just a bit.

1 lb Asparagus, washed, trimmed*, cut into bite size pieces
1 t Sea Salt
1/8 t Coarse black pepper
1/4 t Thyme, dried
1 T Butter or Coconut Oil
1/8 t Lemon zest (optional)

To trim* the asparagus, break off the bottom wood stem of the asparagus spear. When you bend to snap it, it naturally breaks at the tender/tasty point. Dispose of woody stem and chop remainder of spear into bite sized pieces. Meanwhile heat butter or oil in medium skillet. Add asparagus pieces and spices, stirring frequently over medium-high heat.

Cook until tender-crisp and serve immediately as a side dish or it can be added to pastas, sauces, rices, etc. This tastes like spring to me.

Total Cost: $1.85
Asparagus $1.80 (Cashwise)
Butter $.05 (Sunmart)
Spices from pantry stock

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Resurrection Biscuits

I found this idea (unfortunately I can't remember where) for Easter and it turned out great. If not sealed well, the biscuits burst open, kind of like the stone rolling away. It was a great to explain the Easter story with my young boys. If you are a fan of elephant ears, you'll definitely like these.

1 tube biscuits
1 stick melted butter (took about 5 T)
1 c cinnamon and sugar mixture
regular size marshmallows

  • Roll the biscuits flat. Stick a marshmallow on each biscuit (marshmallows represent Jesus).
  • Completely seal each marshmallow in each biscuit (as the tomb was sealed).
  • Roll biscuit balls in butter then in sugar mixture (represents the dirt in the tomb).
  • Bake according to the directions on the biscuit tube.
  • When you pull them out of the oven (have an adult do this) the marshmallow is gone!

Total Cost: $1.20
Biscuits $.45 (Walmart)
Butter $.40 (Sunmart)
Cinnamon/Sugar $.25 (Cashwise)
Marshmallows $.10 (Cashwise)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Golden Chicken & Autumn Vegetables

This is a one dish meal that tastes like you've slaved over it. You won't be slaving over anything - cooking, dishes, or clean up - because you'll eat it all.

4 chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 T chopped fresh parsley (or 1 t dried)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1/4 t dried thyme leaves, crushed
2 large sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes, cut up
2 cups fresh or frozen whole greens beans

Cook chicken in nonstick skillet until browned. Add broth, parsley, garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, potatoes and beans. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 20 minutes or until done. Serves 4.

Chicken: $3.50 (Cashwise)
Broth: $.05 (homemade)
Potatoes $.30 (Cashwise)
Beans $1.00 (Sunmart)
Spices from pantry

Friday, April 9, 2010

Impossible Pie

My friend Jen over at Party in the Pantry made this wonderful creation for me on our weekend away last year and it was marvelous. I had a craving for it last week, made it as a late night snack, then had it for breakfast, and lunch the next day.

My in-laws are in town for the weekend and we'll be enjoying this beauty for breakfast.

You can find the recipe here. You may say that you don't like coconut. Well, as Jen would say - you've never had good coconut. Most of our experience comes from the plasticy sweetened stuff bagged up in the baking isle. Well, for this lovely (and anything else you want coconut for) check your organic/health food/bulk area for this finely shredded non-sweetened variety. It will change your view on coconut forever.

Oh, this may be the easiest recipe you've ever made... Oh, and it's about as frugal as it gets.

Milk: $.20 (Cashwise)
Butter: $.20 (Sunmart)
Eggs: $.20 (Sunmart)
Sugar $.20 (Cashwise)
Flour $.05 (Sunmart)
Coconut $.50 (Cashwise)

I think this with fresh berries on top, but it's incredible all on it's own.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bacon Basted Turkey

At Thanksgiving I started looking for new way to cook a turkey, and add a bit more flavor as well. I've added a mixture of butter & herbs under the skin, stuffing the cavity full of aromatics (herbs, spices, apples, oranges, lemons, etc), and spreading mixtures on top of the skin. I've even cooked a turkey upside down.

I wanted something to add a bit of flavor as well - so I layered strips of bacon between the surface of the turkey and the skin. I took a spoon and slid it in to break any connections and slipped in the bacon. Bacon makes everything better right???

It did, other than my meat thermometer wasn't working right and we ended up over cooking the bird. Somethings even bacon can't help. It was a tasty addition and I'll try it again.

Total Costs:
Turkey + $2.00 (Aldi)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mini Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie with Hot Fudge

Portion control and desserts - that's a hard one. If there is a pie, cake, or large dessert to be eaten, than it's easy to overeat. Put them into a personal size serving makes things easier. The muffin tin is again my friend. This little mint treat is easy to make and then keep frozen until the mood strikes you. Great for parties because they are pre-made and ready to serve.
25 Chocolate wafer cookies, filling removed
1/3 c Butter, melted
1 qt Mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
Hot fudge (recipe following)

HOT FUDGE (or store bought)
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups White sugar
1 (12 fluid ounce) Can evaporated milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Combine butter, cocoa, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Carefully pour hot mixture into a blender and blend for 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Store in refrigerator.

Crush chocolate cookie wafers until crumbs, add melted butter and stir until incorporated.
Gently press 1 tsp of cookie mixture into a cupcake liner in a muffin pan. Place a scoop of ice cream in each cup and press in until cup is full.

Place ice cream cakes (still in muffin pan) in freezer until firm. Allow ice cream cakes to thaw for a few minutes before serving. Top with hot fudge. The recipe makes tons more fudge than you'll need. Store in a airtight container and refrigerate.

Makes 18-24 Servings

Total Costs: $6.40**
Ice Cream:$2.50 (Cashwise)
Cookies: $.50 (Dollar Tree)
Butter:$.40 (Sunmart)
Fudge: $3.00 (Various or store bought)

** That may not sound frugal, but that's 18-24 servings depending on how big you make them. That's a lot of dessert. A family of 4 can eat one a day for 5-6 days or serve a big crowd.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grilled Pork Chops

Spring weather just drives me to the grill. In fact we grill year round because we love the flavor so much. In our recent move, our 10-year-old gas grill did not make it. But that's okay because it was a pain to have to use pliers to turn the gas knobs (broken) and tongs or pliers to open the top (the handle broke off). It has done a serious tour of duty in harsh MI conditions.

So we are on the hunt to buy a grill now that the 3-4' drifts have melted away. Cannot wait to get one set up because I can just taste these beauties.

Simple marinades for pork that make the grill flavor even better. These proportions are for about 4-5 large chops. I rarely measure marinades, so these are more estimates These marinades are nice for a "fresh" taste. Can use them for chicken and some for steak as well.
  • Lightly coat with Soy Sauce & Lawry's Season Salt (can just do on grill do not have to marinade ahead of time
  • 1/2 c Soy Sauce, 1 T brown Sugar, 1/4 t Cumin, 1/8 t Paprika
  • 1/2 c Soy Sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 T Olive Oil, 1 t Sugar, 1/8 t Pepper
  • 1/2 c Soy Sauce, 1/8 t Chili Powder, 1/8 t Cumin, 1/4 t Garlic Powder, 1 t Honey
  • 2 T Olive Oil, 1/2 t dried Thyme, 1/4 t Garlic Powder, 1 t Salt, 1 t dried Oregano
  • 1 t fresh chopped Cilantro, 2 T Olive Oil, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 t Salt, 1 t Sugar
Pork: $4.00 (Sunmart or less on full loin chopped up)
Most of these are items you already have on hand in your cupboards. So in my book, I count the marinades as free.

Couple of grilling tips: Make sure that your grill is good and hot before putting the meat on. Rub a bit of oil on the grates (use a basting brush or a coated paper towel) to keep it from sticking if there isn't any in the marinade. Use the reserve marinade to baste while cooking. When done cooking, allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to keep juices locked in.

Bring on Spring.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Good Friday, Great Sunday -- Happy Easter

Let me wish you and your family a Happy Easter. It's a happy one in our home even though we are separated from family and friends by many miles because it is about so much more than a party. Yes we will miss our church family and celebrating with loved ones... but we have so much to be grateful for.

Today we remember what we have in life, everything because Jesus lives. This song pretty much sums it up for me.

Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Simple easy food. Total comfort on chilly night. This is NOT an April Fools joke. We love this one. It's a set it and forget it kind of meal. I often do and double batch and freeze the leftovers as a second meal.

1-2 lbs of Steak, cubed (tenderized if desired)
1 pkg Onion soup mix
1 can Cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c Beef stock
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 c Mushrooms, sliced (optional)
3/4 c Sour cream

In a slow cooker, stir together steak (I use round or whatever is the in the reduced for quick sale case), soup, stock, mushrooms, soup mix, and Worcestershire sauce together. Set on high 4 hours or low 8 hours and cover. Stir occasionally.

When meat is tender, add sour cream and let heat through another 10 minutes. Serve over rice or egg noodles.

Total Costs: $5.55
Steak: $4.00 (Sunmart)
Soup: $.50 (Cashwise)
Stock: $.05 (Sunmart bouillon cubes)
Sour Cream: $.50 (Cashwise)
Mix: $.50 (Cashwise)